2 more sentenced to prison in Jewish divorce extortion ring


NEW YORK (JTA) — Two more Brooklyn men were sentenced to prison in a federal case against a group that used violence and threats to pressure husbands into granting Jewish divorces to estranged wives.

David Hellman, 33, and Simcha Bulmash, 32, were sentenced in a New Jersey federal court to 44 months and 48 months, respectively, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced Tuesday in a statement. Their sentencing came one day after Moshe Goldstein, 32, was sentenced to four years in prison in the same court.

All three defendants, who were arrested in 2013 in an FBI sting operation, pleaded guilty to various charges.

According to the statement, which cited court records, Hellman, Bulmash and a group of co-conspirators traveled in October 2013 from New York to a warehouse in Edison, New Jersey, with the intent of forcing a Jewish husband to give his wife a “get,” or Jewish religious divorce.

An Orthodox woman cannot remarry without receiving a get from her husband. The women who are trapped in such marriages are called agunot, or “chained women.”

Two Orthodox rabbis, Mendel Epstein, 70, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and Martin Wolmark, 57, of Monsey, New York, also were charged in the scheme.

In addition to the prison term, both Hellman and Bulmash were sentenced to two years of supervised release.

Three more defendants in the scheme — Avrohom Goldstein, 36; Ariel Potash, 42, and Sholom Shuchat, 31, are scheduled for sentencing on Thursday, while the remaining defendants will be sentenced in December, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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